Thank Your Lucky Stars

FI was not born under a lucky star. I mean, I’m no astrologer, but based on life experiences, I think it’s pretty safe to say there were only regular stars floating around the night I was born. Those lucky ones waited for a different night to appear.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had plenty of fantastic things happen in my life. And like many people, I stop to reflect on the things I’m thankful for at this time of year. I have my short list that stays pretty much the same: I’m thankful for my family, my health, my home, the things that have gone well for me this year. I’m also thankful for good books, good ice cream and spinning class (to counteract all the ice cream).

And it might sound odd, but I’m thankful for the tough things I’ve gone through, things I’ve survived and learned from. In some ways, going through an awful experience makes us that much more appreciative of the good things that come our way. Who knows, maybe getting through life without any stars in your corner makes you a stronger person.

I haven’t stopped looking for my lucky star. First star, shooting star, evening star, morning star: they’re all full of good luck as far as I can tell. But lucky stars or not, I’m thankful for all that I have and the people I get to share it with. What are you thankful for this holiday season?

SherriePetersen-SmallSherrie Petersen writes about shooting stars, wishes gone wrong and traveling through time in her debut novel, WISH YOU WEREN’T. Learn more at sherriepetersenbooks.com

We Have a Winner!

The Rafflecopter is over. We have a winner. The lucky recipient of a brand new touch screen Kindle loaded with 52 Emblazon books is…

(drum roll please)

Debra Cross!

Congratulations, Debra! We’ll be in touch.

Thanks, everyone, for making our contest a great success! If you missed it, you can still sign up for our annual catalog. The new edition is almost done and will be hitting inboxes very soon.

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Dare to Dream the Impossible Dream

Have you ever visualized a goal? If so, you are not alone.

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Dreamstime – All rights reserved.

In 1912, Native American Jim Thorpe and the others who qualified to compete for the USA in the summer Olympics headed to Stockholm on a long voyage across the Atlantic. While the others trained on ship’s deck, Jim regularly kicked back in a lounge chair, relaxing with his eyes closed.

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          A writer named Francis Albertani asked, “What are you doing, Jim? Thinking of your Uncle Sitting Bull?”
          “No,” Jim said. “I’m practicing the broad jump. I’ve just jumped 23 feet, eight inches. I think I can win it.”

Jim Thorpe actively practiced creative visualization.

          What is creative visualization? It’s like daydreaming. It’s using our minds to help us achieve our real dreams. The power of the mind can aid people to achieve their goals, to become successful, be healed of illness, manage pain, grow spiritually, or accomplish anything they wish, simply by envisioning the desired result in their mind.
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           According to Rich Avery of Life Compass Blog, “It’s not just about seeing it clearly, but hearing, smelling, and tasting it too.” He explains, “When you continuously focus on an idea or image in your mind, you program every cell in your body and mind to work toward achieving that idea or image. Once you impress it into the subconscious part of you, it eventually becomes ‘fixed’ and you automatically attract and move towards that which you desire.”
          So you want to become a successful writer? Visualize yourself finishing a book, finishing several books, and then winning awards.
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           Author and Writing Coach Jennifer Blanchard says, “I want to be a writer. So I imagine 1,000 people waiting outside a bookstore for me or that I’m signing a contract to make my book (NY Times bestseller! Nobel Prize winner!) into a movie… But visualization is more than just imagining the end product. It can help you get unstuck if you’re currently mired down in a work in progress or it can help you jump-start a new story.”
          She explains how visualizing a scene from your character’s point of view and imagining them applying the five senses to their world will help you write your story. Check out Jennifer’s blog on visualization here.
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          A guest post by Nathan Kash on the WriteToDone blog agrees how important visualization is to successful writing. “Visualization can be the single most important silver bullet in a fictional writer’s arsenal. Your goal would be to engage the reader’s five senses, which means you have to be highly descriptive. Make them see what you want them to see, hear what you want them to hear and feel what you want them to feel etc.”
          Also, check out a good post on visualizing hooks on the WriteToDone blog here.
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          Psychology Today magazine actively promotes the power of visualization. In this article, Angie LeVan says, “Mental practice can get you closer to where you want to be in life, and it can prepare you for success! For instance, Natan Sharansky, a computer specialist who spent nine years in prison in the USSR after being accused of spying for US has a lot of experience with mental practices. While in solitary confinement, he played himself in mental chess, saying: ‘I might as well use the opportunity to become the world champion!’ Remarkably, in 1996, Sharansky beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov!”
          Research shows that for any skill, mental practice is nearly as effective as true practice. Check out the link to the study here.
          Successful people from all walks of life attain their goals through creative visualization and so can writers. It can help us get ideas, get started on a project, overcome writer’s block, finish a book, and successfully promote it. We can all achieve our dreams if we just dare to visualize it.
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          Jim Thorpe’s lounge chair visualization worked. He did win in the 1912 Olympics, taking the gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon.
          Creative Visualization can help you become the person you’re meant to be, so set your goals and dream of attaining those goals, over and over and over . . . until it’s they’re no longer dreams, but become reality.
          So time to start visualizing….
          What are your dreams and goals? Have you ever practiced creative visualization?

Anyone Wanna Win a Kindle?

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Attention teachers, librarians, tweens, and parents of tweens! Announcing a contest just for you…

To celebrate our first year and to treat you, our readers, we, the Emblazon authors, are giving away a brand new touch screen Kindle loaded with over 50 of our books. That’s a $300 value and hours of reading entertainment!

The Rafflecopter contest runs November 3 through November 17 and is open to anyone who loves tween literature.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Signing up for our annual catalog is required for entry. Current subscribers are also eligible. Winners must reside in the United States or Canada. 

New Emblazon Release by BBH McChiller!

Listen, swabbers, to this kraken tale. 
Treasure and scoundrels and setting sail. 
Sinking ships and a ghostly wail. 
Can AJ survive, or will the beast prevail?

We’re excited to announce Legend of Monster IslandBook 3 in the Monster Moon Mystery series (for ages 8 to 12),  by BBH McChiller (Kathryn Sant and Lynn Kelley).

Special price on the eBook today and tomorrow for 99 cents:  Amazon

Also in paperbackAmazon

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Slimy tentacles slither out of the toilets and tangle with 12-year-old AJ Zantony and his younger cousin, Jasmyn, while they’re visiting Zala Manor, their great aunt’s creepy old mansion.

AJ’s buddy, Vlad, the pirate rat, stops by and pleads for help in saving his species from the creatures invading the sewers. AJ, Jaz, and their friends decide to risk everything to assist Vlad, plunging deeper into sea monster lore and facing the mysterious legends firsthand.

Is it worth sailing into an otherworldly storm and confronting evil scoundrels, scarred souls, and the most nightmarish beast imaginable? The dangers mount, increasing the chances that AJ and his friends will fall victim to the Legend of Monster Island.

Watch the book trailer:

Get the first two books, too:

Monster Moon Book 1
Curse at Zala Manor
Perfect read for Halloween!

“This tale will rattle yer timbers, squiffie,
and chill ye to the bone!” ~Vlad

Curse at Zala Manor, Monster Moon mysteries, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, BBH McChillerAvailable in:

Paperback:  Amazon
Hardback:  AmazonBarnes & Noble
eBook:  AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords (formats for all e-readers)

Monster Moon Book 2
Secret of Haunted Bog

MONSTER MOON - Show Me The Bounty!

“Beware the bog, landlubbers.
If ye venture into that haunted place,
Yer every step be filled with danger. Yarr!” ~Vlad

 Hardback:  AmazonBarnes & Noble
Paperback: Amazon
eBook:  AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords 

Do you like spooky, fun children’s books? What’s your favorite?

BBH Kathy and Lynn

The unusual name BBH McChiller is actually the pseudonym for two authors living in Southern California: Lynn Kelley and Kathryn Sant. The mystery series began one Halloween during a discussion at a writers’ meeting about their greatest fears and ended up being one of their most rewarding experiences.

 

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Kathryn Sant is a retired Obstetrician who has witnessed the births of thousands of future readers. She has published a middle-grade novel, Desert Chase (Scholastic), and written for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s newsletter. She is currently working on a middle-grade boys’ adventure novel and the next Monster Moon book. Her interest in adventure, accurate research, and genealogy has led to a love of world travel, but she also enjoys quiet evenings reading with her dogs at her side.

Lynn Kelley Author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon mysteries

Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four little rascals. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Whittier, CA at age eight. She now lives in Southern California. Most of her time involves books – either writing books, reading books, or making altered art books. The highlight of her life is time spent with her grandchildren.

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Illustrated by Emblazoner Mikey Brooks. He’s a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books includingBEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURESseries, and the author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.

How to Kill a Writing Schedule

Eruption with Mushroom CloudI’m a writer. I write books of action and adventure for the ‘Tween audience. I generally set a schedule for the many things I have to do and stick to it. This is how things usually look.

I’m currently working on a series that takes place in ancient Nubia about a young princess who is slated to be the next ruler of the kingdom, but the catch is that she’s a warrior and loves it. According to schedule, I began book #4 in the series. I think through my plot and try to pair it with a marketing strategy, but keep in mind that I’m in the process of promoting book #3.

In the midst of this I’m planning a family vacation. Not to worry, it works out fine because we’re traveling in an RV and not only can I continue working, I can also promote my books as we cross the country. Then everything goes nuts.

We leave a little behind schedule because the windshield on the RV has to be replaced. That’s not a problem because I can write while my husband drives. It’s not a problem until we reach Denver late on a Saturday night, in the middle of a thunderstorm, and the windshield is leaking and every repair shop is closed. So, instead of writing I’m packing towels around the seams of the windshield as my husband is mopping up water and searching every cabinet we have looking for caulking.

We arrive in Iowa just in time for the high school graduation of a friend’s daughter and all of the celebrations usurp any time I had set aside for writing. We leave Iowa and head toward Niagara Falls, a place I’ve dreamed of seeing as long as I can remember. We make it as far as Ohio and the drive shaft drops out of the motorhome. We get towed into the repair shop and I think, No problem, I can make up all of the lost writing time. The following day the repairs are made and we’re on the road again.

We make it to the Falls and I get the bright idea to go into Canada. I’m thinking, it’s just a short side trip and I can make a run to Costco to grab some frozen mango for my smoothies, after all we’re running pretty low. We get to the border and the patrol agent asks our reason for visiting Canada. I say, “We’re on a Costco run for frozen mango!” It must have been the wrong thing because now we’re instructed to go to the inspection station while they search the car.

How long does it take to search one Explorer? Apparently, it takes quite a bit of time, especially since they choose to search each box of books, ask me why I’m carrying so many copies of each book, and ask to see a seller’s license if I plan to sell them in Canada?

We finally get to Costco, get the mango, and head back to the US. Have we learned our lesson? No. Did we think to come up with a better reason to tell the agent for visiting Canada? No. And the search is on…again. By the time we return to the RV I am so rattled that any ideas about Nubia, or a princess, or her plans as a warrior have fled and I can’t find them anywhere. This frame of mind continues for several days and I finally give up. I decide to just enjoy the vacation and I’ll write when I get home.

Just so you know, I made it home and finished book #4 of the PRINCESS KANDAKE series. I have plans for next year’s vacation, but you can bet that I will have the next book finished before I leave home.

A Certain Point of View

One of the things that’s always fascinated me about people, and by extension writing, is the fact we all see the world through our own eyes. On the surface that may not seem astounding or provocative to anyone else, but let’s examine it a little deeper for a moment.

You’re walking on the sidewalk of a busy street in your town when a fender bender happens at the intersection ahead of you. Dozens of people saw the accident, including yourself, yet if all those people are separately asked to recount the details of the incident, a wide variety of stories will emerge. Some accounts will even directly conflict in certain details of the event, like the colors of the cars or who was at fault. All the people witnessed the same incident at the same time and all are telling the truth — at least, the truth as they saw it. (Here’s a short, interesting exercise in eyewitness fallibility if you’d like to learn more.)

How does this pertain to writing? Storytelling is all about perspective. Who is telling the story? What is their age, their background? Were they an active participant or did they merely observe it? These questions pertain to the narrator and are fundamentally important to how a story gets told. Writers also have tools like tense (present or past) to manipulate how a story is conveyed to the reader. Think of the possibilities like a nesting doll.

Russian dollsThird Person Omniscient is the outermost doll. This one encompasses all the rest. It sees and knows everything. Heroes, bad guys, this viewpoint can get inside anyone’s head and find out what’s really going on. (Just don’t try to do it all at once!)

Third Person Limited is represented by the next couple of layers, depending on the number of narrators. Some books are told from multiple characters, yet each one can only present the story from their own perspective. Other books have only one narrator who only imparts information that they know to the reader. While we can often see inside this narrator’s head, the third person perspective still positions the reader as an observer from the outside.

First Person, Past Tense introduces the next level of intimacy. The story is told to the reader directly from the mouth of the main character. Thoughts and emotions, as well as observations are shared, but strictly from the viewpoint of that character.

First Person, Present Tense is the deepest level of reader/narrator connection. The reader lives the story, moment to moment, just as the protagonist does. Everything is immediate and the technique works well for action scenes, but can seem unnatural or forced during quieter, more mundane sections.

As a writer, this last choice might seem to be the best to engage a reader and it can work to great effect. A recent, popular example is The Hunger Games. But this perspective can be extremely limiting as well. An example of this can be seen in the movie version of The Hunger Games where they added scenes with the President conversing with his staff in order to supply some back story and create more tension.

To stick with only one viewpoint can elevate our empathy for the main character, but it’s also easy to lose sight of the forest amongst the trees. I believe this is a main reason why first person narratives are more predominant and popular in middle grade and young adult literature. As we grow, we first develop a sense of self before gaining an awareness of others. In my opinion, it’s easier for young readers to identify with a first person narrator because that’s how they view the world. Things that occur outside the sphere of awareness of children are largely ignored. A missed dessert because of an unfinished plate of vegetables can be high drama for a toddler or even a first or second grader. Everything can be a sign of the apocalypse, even for those in their teens — which is also a reason why I think dystopians are so popular with the younger crowd as well, but that’s a subject for a different blog post ;-)

The story you want to tell will often lead you to your choice of perspective. If the action is centered entirely around a single character, first person might be an excellent fit. If you have a larger cast of important folks, some version of third person may be a better vehicle to work with. The main thing to remember is no one has a monopoly on the truth. We all carry our own versions of it and experience things in personal, unique ways.

I’ll leave you with a short animated video featuring a singing Obi Wan and Yoda, explaining “a certain point of view” to a bemused Luke. Take care and go out and find your own truths today!

 

TuckerPenny1010smAlan Tucker , author of The Mother-Earth Series (A Measure of Disorder, A Cure for Chaos, and Mother’s Heart), as well as a new science fiction novel, Knot in Time, is a dad, a graphic designer, and a soccer coach. Mostly in that order. He’s had a lifelong adoration of books, beginning with Encyclopedia Brown, progressing through Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx, and continuing on with the likes of Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine and Naomi Novik, to name a few.

“I wanted to write books that I’d enjoy reading. Books that I hoped my kids would enjoy too!”

Visit his website for more information about his books. View maps, watch trailers, see reviews and much more!

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New Release by Emblazon Author L. R. W. Lee

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The wait is over! Book Three of this highly-rated fantasy series is now available in Kindle eBook and paperback at Amazon.

Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor is the third offering in L. R. W. Lee’s well-received Andy Smithson allegorical, fantasy, adventure series for middle graders – a planned seven-book series.

In Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor, Andy discovers more than he bargained for when his parents reveal his mom’s past and he realizes she will die when he breaks the curse unless he intervenes.

Now twelve, Andy returns to Oomaldee to find its citizens on edge after many have been turned into vulture-people. Against this background, Andy and his company embark upon the next quest, to retrieve the horn of a unicorn. But not long into it, a seductive voice calls to Andy, tempting him to surrender the next ingredient in exchange for a promise to preserve his mom. Will he be able to stop the transformation of Oomaldee’s citizens? Will he jeopardize his ability to end the curse to save Mom?

Available in Kindle and Paperback

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eBook 1, Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury is now FREE. Pick up a copy at Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N. You can also listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 on iTunes. Book one is also available in paperback.


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Book 2, Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning is available in Kindle and Paperback.

 

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Linda1L. R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband, daughter and son.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

 

Book Trailers: The Nitty Gritty for Authors and a Bright Idea for Teachers

Sepia_Film_Strip_clip_art_hightBook trailers. Everyone seems to be creating them nowadays. With so much user-friendly technology at our fingertips, why not? Do they sell books? That’s debatable. Do they have other uses? You bet they do!

First of all, authors, do trailers sell books? If your title is already popular, yeah, a trailer might help you sell even more. But if your book is struggling in the Amazon rankings, don’t expect a trailer to work any magic. Creating a trailer can’t hurt. It is one more way for readers to discover your work. But keep in mind it’s just as hard to bring attention to a video as it is to a book.

Another reason trailers don’t sell many books is because most of them are incredibly, hair-rippingly boring. Effective trailers are short, to the point, and leave readers needing to know more. But there are a dozen bad ones for every good one. For some reason, many authors can write a killer blurb but can’t create a concise hook in video format to save their lives. I rarely give any of them more than 30 seconds.

But YOU created several two-minute videos, you may be saying. Yeah, yeah. A few years ago, I jumped on the bandwagon. With one exception, my trailers are positively mediocre. But I didn’t delete them, because when someone is already interested in my book… Let me repeat that. When someone is already interested in my book, a trailer can be useful.

For example, when I’m soliciting reviews from bloggers, I pitch the story. Then at the end of my query email, after I’ve already gotten their attention (hopefully), I direct them to the trailer. When I do this, more often than not they watch the video and accept the book.

Other times I’m asked by friends or readers which of my books they should try first or next or some similar question. I often send them links to the trailers. At this point, they want to watch. Trailers don’t sell books, but they can cement interest that’s already there.

I’m finally getting to the teacher portion of this post. I am a teacher, so my thoughts usually drift back to the classroom eventually. And nope, I’m not recommending teachers show our book trailers to their students. (You were afraid I might suggest that, weren’t you?) I’m recommending they let students create their own!

Three reasons for this:

  1. It’s a new spin on the tired old book reports. Yes, I assign them, too. But sometimes a little variety can turn drudgery into something fun.
  2. The technology is out there, user-friendly and at our fingertips. Why not teach kids to use it? (Check out Richard Byrne’s helpful post about tools.)
  3. Three, it’s a great way to connect students with authors. What author wouldn’t be tickled to get a video from kids featuring their book? Every single one I know would reach out in return. And most kids would be tickled to hear back from them. It’s a fabulous opportunity to create interest and enthusiasm for literature.

Book trailers. I don’t watch too many of them. They simply can’t compete with Hollywood’s trailers. But with a little creative thinking, maybe you can think of some great uses for them, too. After all, the technology is out there, user-friendly and at your fingertips.

In conclusion, let me mention Emblazon’s YouTube channel…which just so happens to include my one trailer I’m actually kinda proud of.

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michelleWhen Michelle Isenhoff is not writing imaginary adventures, she’s probably off on one. She loves roller coasters, big dogs, high school football games, swimming in big waves, old graveyards, and wearing flip-flops all winter. Once an elementary teacher, Michelle now homeschools two of her three kids and looks forward to summer adventures as much as they do.

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